Eight graduate courses are required for all Ph.D. and M.S. candidates. The required courses include six core courses (210, 212, 214, 215, 216, 219) and two electives that students choose in consultation with their faculty adviser. All students are required to take 205, Introduction to Research, and to also attend the Department's weekly colloquium (292). 205 and 292 do not fulfill the elective requirement, but are useful opportunities to learn about and engage with current research. Students are allowed to fulfill their elective requirements with appropriate courses outside the Department (provided they are approved by their adviser), and are allowed to take more than two electives. Each student has a faculty adviser who helps determine which courses are most appropriate, taking into account the student’s background and interests. The student-to-faculty ratio is low so that M.S. and Ph.D. students can work closely with faculty and pursue programs that fit their individual needs.
In the first year of study, Ph.D. students are expected to take two core graduate-level courses per quarter and other courses specific to the student’s field of interest. After passing a written qualifying examination, Ph.D. students pursue independent research leading to an oral examination ("Advancement to Candidacy") and completion of a doctoral dissertation.
Students may obtain a master’s degree through course work and submission of an approved thesis. The M.S. thesis may be waived by passing four sections of the written Ph.D. qualifying examination. Master’s candidates are encouraged to write a research thesis and may do so in any of the research fields in the program, thereby developing laboratory and computational skills in areas such as electronics design, computer simulation and visualization, cryogenics, X-ray scattering, complex novel materials and devices, or materials science.